Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Government doesn’t have its finger on the pulse


"The Government has no idea whether people with COVID who are isolating at home have been issued pulse oximeters and lives are at stake,” says ACT Deputy Leader and Health spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“ACT has long called for pulse oximeters to be issued to people suffering from COVID-19. People have died in their homes and we need to know what equipment and support the Government is offering them. 

“Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield has today told Select Committee that not everyone isolating at home will get a pulse oximeter. But both Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson and Caroline McElnay have said they do. 

“Who is right? 

“When answering questions from ACT at Health Select Committee this morning, Bloomfield said they aren’t rationing them. So why aren’t they using them?

“Onatrio in Canada has been issuing these routinely since March. How are we so far behind? 

“Pulse oximeters can be used by people diagnosed with COVID and are used to show oxygen levels at home. They can be monitored by GPs in the community. If oxygen levels drop that is an indication that the person needs hospitalisation.

“ACT believes everyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 who is isolating at home should have one of these. 

“It’s not good enough for the Government not to be able answer basic questions and it’s not good enough to hide behind privacy when questions are raised about the people who have died. We should know whether or not they were issued with this equipment. 

“ACT has a plan that would get our freedom back. The Government took nine out of 15 our COVID 2.0 recommendations, we implore them to take out COVID 3.0 recommendations, roll them out and then set a date.”

Written Parliamentary Question. 

Reply 45887 (2021) has been answered 
Portfolio: COVID-19 Response (Hon Chris Hipkins) 
Question: What plans, if any, does the Government have to procure a stockpile of oxygen saturation monitors, or pulse oximeters, to provide for community-based monitoring of COVID-19 positive patients? 
Reply: I am advised that the Ministry of Health has secured supplies of hospital grade and community supply of pulse oximeters that can be attached to monitors in use across hospital, quarantine and primary health care settings to monitor COVID-19 patients. This is primarily because pulse oximetry is not standardised across manufacturers, and it is not uncommon for different pulse oximeters to show variability in oxygen readings on the same patient. Given the use parameters and requirements, the Ministry has secured two types of pulse oximeters – handheld with monitor adaptor and fingertip. 
45887 (2021)